Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carrots and tomatoes: A vegetable love story. Part 2

I've never grown carrots. I don't really know why, but it's probably because I've been too lazy to put in the time needed to prep the soil. And probably because it just never really occurred to me to try to grow them.

But what kind of a cruel, heartless gardener would I be if I denied my tomatoes the love of their carrots? So, my seed order includes two varieties of carrots. I like my carrots really sweet, so I chose two varieties that sounded like they'd be up to the task.

Sugarsnax 54 carrots are described as super tasty, sweet, and tender. (Excellent.) They have an extra high beta-carotene content--which explains their rich, dark orange color--and they grow about 9 inches long.

The Yaya carrot (how could I refuse a carrot with that name?) is a very sweet, crisp carrot that grows about 6 inches long. It holds well in the ground, so it's a good choice for a fall crop, and the cooler weather of fall adds extra sweetness.

We already know the story of how tomatoes and carrots met and fell in love, according to the book "Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening" by Louise Riotte. But carrots have other friends, too. Onions, leeks, and herbs such as rosemary and sage help repel the carrot fly. Carrots do well planted with lettuce and radishes, which sure makes it easy to collect all the fixins' for a salad! And carrots grow and taste better when near chives. In general, beans thrive when carrots are planted between them. Peas also benefit from carrots.

Carrots aren't particularly fond of dill. If they are planted near each other and the dill matures, it will reduce the carrot crop.

Other good tidbits about carrots: Store them away from apples or the carrots will become bitter. Sufficient lime, humus and potash is needed for a sweet-tasting carrot, and too much nitrogen will make them bitter.

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